Walsh said he hopes to speak with students at UNC about the interconnections of business and fitness, and to let them know they can find their own path to success — something he wishes someone would have told him when he was in school.
“It is an opportunity for me to give back to the people that are coming up into the industry,” Walsh said. “I want to try to help them raise the bar in any way, shape or form, and bring the fortitude and inspiration to the market as it grows. If I can give any information to help their journey, I am doing my job. It means a lot to me. I really do care.”
At Rise Nation, Walsh said he hopes to redefine workouts as safe, satisfying and low risk by incorporating high intensity interval training, Versaclimber machines and music into 30 minute classes.
“I stuck to my dream and took a risk,” Walsh said about starting his business. “I was willing to put it all on the line because I believed in this. Years later, we’re still changing lives. That’s what keeps me going.”
Walsh’s studios have expanded to several cities across the United States, including Dallas, Cleveland and Miami, and have even sparked the interest of famous billionaire Mark Cuban, who invested in the company.
While Walsh was a student, he worked with the UNC Olympic Sports Strength & Conditioning program while studying part-time.
“I was all over the places with things I wanted to do,” Walsh said. “It was not until I began my internship in the strength and conditioning program that I found my true calling.”
Walsh said he knew he wanted to create an “anti-gym” where people could let their guard down during their workout.
“I worked with one client at a time, very organic, through 13-hour days, and making mistakes and learning from them," Walsh said.
Rebecca Lawson, executive communication specialist for the CSBC, said she's looking forward to hearing Walsh speak.
“It is awesome that he is a UNC alumnus, and I look forward to hearing how he balanced his academics in preparation for his career,” Lawson said. “He really uses his connections to further him in the business.”
Alain Aguilar, a teaching associate professor in the Excercise and Sports Science department and director of the undergraduate fitness professional program, said fitness trainers like Walsh help actors prepare for the physical and aesthetic demands of their upcoming roles.
“If they need to look like a big military person, he’ll work with them with diet and exercise to help them create the image they need and have the stamina to withstand the demands of playing the role and acting,” Aguilar said, speaking generally on the role of celebrity trainers.
Walsh has been featured in many publications, including Vanity Fair, the Hollywood Reporter and Men’s Health, for his role in preparing well-known actors and actresses for their appearances in hit films. Most notably, he has trained Brie Larson for "Captain Marvel," Bradley Cooper for "American Sniper" and Matt Damon for "Jason Bourne."
Walsh has also worked with many other well-known celebrities, including Emma Stone, Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway.
Still, Walsh doesn't want students to think they have to blindly copy his path to success.
“Everyone is going to have their own path," Walsh said. "No one is going to get in my position following what I did. But I had to make mistakes, and they don’t need to make those same mistakes.”
Those who'd like to hear Walsh speak can join the Carolina Sport Business Club at the club's meeting on Monday in Gardner Hall, Room 105 at 6 p.m.
“I want to help lift the bar in the industry and help students understand business better – because I didn’t,” Walsh said. “We have a responsibility, and I want everyone to lead by that.”